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Formant characteristics of human laughter

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Kai Alter


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Although laughter is an important aspect of nonverbal vocalization, its acoustic properties are still not fully understood. Extreme articulation during laughter production, such as wide jaw opening, suggests that laughter can have very high first formant (F1) frequencies. We measured fundamental frequency and formant frequencies of the vowels produced in the vocalic segments of laughter. Vocalic segments showed higher average F1 frequencies than those previously reported and individual values could be as high as 1100 Hz for male speakers and 1500 Hz for female speakers. To our knowledge, these are the highest F1 frequencies reported to date for human vocalizations, exceeding even the F1 frequencies reported for trained soprano singers. These exceptionally high F1 values are likely to be based on the extreme positions adopted by the vocal tract during laughter in combination with physiological constraints accompanying the production of a “pressed” voice.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Szameitat DP, Darwin CJ, Szameitat AJ, Wildgruber D, Alter K

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Voice

Year: 2011

Volume: 25

Issue: 1

Pages: 32-37

Print publication date: 08/04/2010

ISSN (print): 0892-1997

ISSN (electronic): 1873-4588

Publisher: Mosby, Inc.


DOI: 10.1016/j.jvoice.2009.06.010


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Funder referenceFunder name
Marie Curie Foundation
DFG AL 357/1-2German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft)
DFG WI 2101/2German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft)